Marathon security plans included bombing scenario

Two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Credit: Getty Images
Two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.
Credit: Getty Images

Security preparations for last week’s Boston Marathon, where two bombs went off killing three people and wounding 264, included planning for such an emergency, a top Massachusetts public safety official said.

“We spend months planning for the marathon. We did a tabletop exercise the week before that included a bombing scenario in it,” Kurt Schwartz, the state’s undersecretary for homeland security, told a panel at Harvard University on Wednesday.

Two bombs went off at the finish line of the race, one of the most-attended sporting events in Boston, where there was a crowd of tens of thousands of spectators.

Given the public nature of the marathon, which is run along a 26.2-mile course stretching from suburban Hopkinton to downtown Boston, security officials said they take into account a variety of possibilities.

Planning rules adopted since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington “have forced you to do that, to think about the unthinkable,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told the panel. “When you do that, when you envision what might happen… you respond in a way that is probably more thoughtful.”

Investigators have accused two brothers of Chechen ethnicity – Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a gun battle with police, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now in custody – with planting the bombs.

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